Childhood & Early Life
Hayden Lesley Panettiere was born on August 21, 1989, in Palisades, New York, USA, to Lesley R. Vogel and Alan Lee Skip Panettiere. While her mother was a former soap opera actress, her father was a fire captain. Panettiere has mixed heritage, with Italian, English, and German ancestry. She has a younger brother named Jansen Panettiere.
Panettiere attended ‘South Orangetown Middle School’ in New York. From grade nine, she was homeschooled till the completion of her high school education.
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Since her mother was an actress, it was only natural for Hayden Panettiere to follow suit. A month before her first year birthday, she appeared in her first TV commercial for ‘Playskool Toy Trains.’
Panettiere’s stint in advertisements continued as she featured as an infant and toddler for ‘McDonald’s,’ ‘Hershey’s,’ and ‘Nix Lice Shampoo.’ By the age of four, she had become a pro-model for advertising agencies.
Her big break in television came with the role of ‘Sarah Roberts’ in the ABC soap opera ‘One Life to Live’ in 1994. The series continued for three years till 1997. In 1998, she took up the role of ‘Lizzie Spaulding’ in the CBS soap opera ‘Guiding Light’ in which she starred from 1998 to 2000.
In 1999, Panettiere was featured in the television movie ‘If You Believe’ which earned her a nomination at the prestigious ‘Young Artist Awards.’ Around the same time, her career in films also started.
Panettiere’s first film was ‘The Object of My Affection’ wherein she played the role of a mermaid. She did small roles in several films, including ‘Message in a Bottle,’ ‘Remember the Titans,’ ‘Joe Somebody,’ and ‘The Affair of the Necklace.’
In 2002, Panettiere played an important role of the title character’s daughter on Fox's ‘Ally McBeal.’ She followed it up with a prominent role in HBO Films’ ‘Normal’ and a recurring role in ‘Malcolm in the Middle.’ Furthermore, she also guest-starred in ‘Law & Order: Special Victims Unit’ in two different roles. She also appeared in the ‘Disney Channel’ film ‘Tiger Cruise.’
Though Panettiere was several television series old by 2006, the big breakthrough still evaded her until she was offered the role of ‘Claire Bennet’ in the NBC series ‘Heroes.’ The show, which continued till 2010, had Panettiere in one of the lead roles of a cheerleader who had regenerative healing ability.
From 2004 to 2011, Panettiere did several films, such as; ‘Raising Helen’ wherein she portrayed Kate Hudson’s character’s adolescent niece; ‘Racing Stripes’ where she played one of the main roles; ‘Bring It On: All or Nothing’ in which she appeared as a cheerleader; and ‘Shanghai Kiss’ where she played ‘Adelaide Bourbon.’ She also did voice roles in ‘Scooby Doo and the Goblin King,’ ‘Alpha and Omega,’ and ‘Hoodwinked Too! Hood vs. Evil.’
In 2006, Panettiere guest-appeared on MTV’s popular show ‘Punk'd.’ In April 2012, she hosted an episode of the new series. The same year, she landed the lead role in the ABC musical drama ‘Nashville.’ In the series, she was cast opposite Connie Britton. A regular on the show, she reprised her role in six seasons until 2018.
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Apart from ‘Nashville,’ Panettiere’s other outings on the small screen include ‘Lip Sync Battle’ and ‘Chopped Junior.’
In the early-2010s, Panettiere appeared in ‘Scream 4.’ In the film, she played the role of ‘Kirby Reed.’ The role, which was the highlight of the film, earned her much acclaim and appreciation. During this period, she also voiced the character of ‘Red Riding Hood’ in the animated film ‘Hoodwinked Too! Hood vs. Evil.’
In 2016, Panettiere was featured in the film ‘Custody,’ alongside Viola Davis. The pair had previously worked together for ‘The Architect.’ She then reprised her role in the video game sequel ‘Kingdom Hearts Birth by Sleep.’ She then voiced ‘Xion’ in ‘Kingdom Hearts 3D: Dream Drop Distance.’
Acting apart, Hayden Panettiere has also pursued singing. She has sung songs for films, such as ‘A Bug’s Life,’ ‘Tiger Cruise,’ ‘The Dust Factory,’ and ‘Ice Princess.’ One of her songs even received a ‘Grammy’ nomination. Her first single ‘Wake Up Call’ was released in 2008. Additionally, she recorded several songs for ‘Nashville,’ which were released as singles and included on the show's soundtrack album.
She has done a couple of modeling assignments as well. She was the cover girl for ‘Neutrogena’ and also appeared in the Heroes-themed ‘Got Milk?’ ad. She also worked as a designer for the handbag brand ‘Dooney & Bourke’ from 2007 to 2008, designing a limited edition hand bags. She also modeled for the brand.
Awards & Achievements
Hayden Panettiere’s first ever award was a ‘Special Recognition Award,’ bestowed upon her by the ‘Leukemia & Lymphoma Society’ for improving national awareness of the disease through her role in ‘Guiding Light.’
In 2001, Panettiere received the ‘Young Artists Award’ for ‘Best Supporting Actress’ for ‘Remember the Titans.’
Panettiere’s role in ‘Heroes’ earned her several awards, including the ‘Saturn Award’ for ‘Best Supporting Actor,’ ‘Teen Choice Best Actress Drama,’ ‘Teen Choice Breakout Actress,’ ‘Teen Choice TV Actress for Action Adventure,’ and ‘Young Artists Award’ for ‘Best Actor in a Supporting Role.’
From December 2007 to February 2009, Panettiere was in a romantic relationship with her co-star from ‘Heroes,’ Milo Ventimiglia.
In 2009, Panettiere met former heavyweight world champion boxer Wladimir Klitschko. The two started dating, but separated after two years. In April 2013, they reconciled and resumed their romantic relationship. By October 2013, they were officially engaged. In December 2014, they welcomed their first child, a daughter named Kaya Evdokia Klitschko.
Hayden’s mother confirmed in August 2018 that the couple has split but remain on friendly terms.
Panettiere followed a vegetarian diet while shooting for ‘Heroes.’ However, she resumed eating chicken and fish as her energy levels started dropping.
She is an avid supporter of ‘Ronald McDonald House Charities’ and joined ‘The Whaleman Foundation’ to help preserve whales and bring an end to whale hunting. She was awarded PETA’s ‘Compassion in Action Award’ for her efforts.
Over the years, Panettiere has also worked for the prevention of teen pregnancy. She was one of the leading figures at the Euromaidan protests in Kiev.